Friday, June 09, 2023

Getting Serious About Humor: Trying Some Fiction

 I believe most of the humor books I've discussed so far have been essays or memoir or essay/memoir. Today I'm covering a couple of humorous novels I read this year.

Deacon King Kong by James McBride won The Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2021. It's an excellent book, sort of a classic story about a time (1969) and a place (a Brooklyn housing project). I didn't find it all that funny, though. Reviewers do describe it as funny, but I'm thinking maybe droll or wry in places. But that's not a failure, because the book is just plain good. It doesn't need to be gut-busting funny.

A number of reviews call To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris funny. There is humor here, particularly when you consider that the book is about religious observance. I particularly liked the main character's interactions with his employee, Betsy Convoy. They made up for all the sections on baseball I had to pass over, because I always pass over sections on baseball.

But neither of these books have the kind of humor that I'm Wearing Tunics Now and The World's Largest Man have. 

So What's Going On Here?

Well, a few things could be at work here.

  1. This could just be the way humorous fiction rolls.
  2. McBride and Ferris are fiction writers who happened to write some humor in these novels.
  3. Wendi Aarons (Tunics) and Harrison Scott Key (Largest Man) are humorists who happened to write some memoir.

Must read more.

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